Towards the end of Borg McEnroe, there is a clip from the Wimbledon Champions’ Ball.

The setting is quite a large room with a stage to one side, where a band with a female singer is playing jazz music. The music is at the foreground of the sound track in the scene, with individual conversations sometimes overlaid on top of it. There are perhaps a hundred people sat around tables. If I recall correctly, Borg sits alone (or with his fiancée), while McEnroe and some of the other American players sit together, drinking and chatting.

The scene changes between broad views of the scene from a few different angles and close-ups of individual people.

When the fourth wall is broken by merging in-universe music (the band on stage) with the out-of-universe sound track as this scene does, it is conventional – almost formulaic, to the point of being anticipated and expected by the audience – that the camera will rest on the singer at least once, to emphasise the dual nature of the sound. A good example is the famous meeting scene in Romeo+Juliet, where Des’ree is in focus some of the time (from 0:38, for example).

But in Borg McEnroe, I found the scenography quite unusual in relation to the singer (played by Camille Jones according to IMDb): her face is never shown at all. If memory serves, she is visible in at least four different shots, but:

  • in one wide shot, she is far enough away that her face isn’t visible
  • in one wide shot, she is seen from over her left shoulder and her face isn’t visible
  • in one shot, the camera shows the room from just behind her, so her face isn’t visible
  • in one close-up shot, she is seen from the front, but she is in the background and the bokeh obscures her face completely

Perhaps it was just me, but I felt that entire scene screamed out for a pan onto the singer’s face, and the longer the scene went on, the more I felt like the shot was being heavily teased, but deliberately withheld from the viewer, like when a mysterious villain is deliberately shown only from angles that obscures their face. It stuck with me more than the actual content of the scene.

The singer was never actually mentioned in the film and didn’t play any role at all beyond providing the sound track for this one scene, so I came out quite bewildered by this tactic.

So my question is:

Was the singer’s face being left out actually a deliberate choice by the director? Or was my expectation of the formulaic makeup of the scene just too strong? And if it was intentional, what was the purpose of it? Does she have some deeper symbolic meaning that went above my head?


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